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Sweden seeks approval for SAS sale

AFP/The Local · 19 Feb 2010, 06:36

Published: 19 Feb 2010 06:36 GMT+01:00

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"There is no immediate sale in view but we do not see any use in our being a shareholder in an airline and that is why we are asking Parliament to be able to reduce our stake when we can do so most profitably," Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson said in a statement.

The Swedish government is the single largest shareholder in SAS with a 21.4 percent stake, while Denmark and Norway each hold 14.3 percent. The rest is privately held.

The centre-right government of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt operates a general policy to sell state assets that it believes are better off in private hands.

The government confirmed on Thursday that it would still take part in SAS' planned €500-million ($700 million) cash raising exercise to help it cope with the slump in air travel sparked by the global financial crisis.

The Swedish state currently controls 41 companies and has interests in 13 others that employ some 170,000 people combined.

The last privatisations in Sweden were carried out in 2009 in the pharmacies sector.

Earlier this month, SAS reported a worse-than-expected fourth quarter net loss of 1.3 billion kronor and said it would cut 650 jobs.

"The sharp downturn in the economy led to an extremely large decline in business travel, which had a significant impact on the entire aviation industry," SAS said in its earnings statement.

Story continues below…

"Market conditions deteriorated far more extensively than originally expected when the Core SAS strategy was initiated a year ago," it added.

SAS's loss over the whole of 2009 was 2.95 billion kronor, down from 6.36 billion kronor in 2008, while sales fell 15 percent to 44.92 billion kronor.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:00 February 19, 2010 by tillerman
Might as well sell it. There is certainly no evidence that the government can run SAS any better than it runs itself.
11:49 February 19, 2010 by Beavis
Glad the Swedish govt wont be wasting any more money on this awful airline, maybe it will shake them up to hire a new management team i touch with reality
15:25 February 19, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
I refuse to fly SAS to Sweden. KLM and Continental only.
17:08 February 19, 2010 by Joyous
It's hard to believe SAS has lost so much money when their tickets are so expensive and they sell all food on the flight. Maybe privatisation will be good for the ariline, then we can get some free water to drink on the flight.
14:43 February 20, 2010 by Audrian
The market as religion is beginning to get strength in Sweden. This year drug outlets were partially privatised and now an airline. This right wing government is beginning to behave like America's neoconservatives.

If the government is inefficient in administering a company it can contract out the managment of the company to a private company (by way of competitive bidding).The management was the underground was contracted out to a French company this way. Since 2009 I think the underground is being managed by a chinese firm (I think). The service so far is as good as ever.
23:17 February 20, 2010 by katar
SAS will wake up, and then, SAS will be one of the best airline companies of thid world.

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